How To Chainsaw Carve a Bear

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Do you own a chainsaw, and you are looking to carve out a bear but don’t know how to? If yes, then this is definitely the right place for you to be.

Chainsaw carving a bear is quite easy once you know the right steps. This method involves taking a large log, placing it on a wooden piece, cutting the log into a triangle shape, making the ears, cutting the hump of the shoulders, drawing rough-cutting lines, and drawing the shape of the mouth head, cheeks, and paws. Now, you should begin notching the ears, making cuts for facial expressions, cutting the neck and making the cuts for legs, making shoulder cuts, furring the hairy body of the bear, cutting the swap wood at the bottom, giving the final touches to the facial expressions, and painting the bear.

In this article, you will get to learn all about carving wood, how to chainsaw carve a bear, the equipment needed for chainsaw carving, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Carve a Bear With Your Chainsaw

Most people admire art and wish to do things like carving art out of wood on their own. Carving a wooden bear out of a log is among such wonderful art. This doesn’t just give you aesthetic pleasure, but it will also make you incredibly proud, as not everyone can do this. Moreover, you could even use this unique talent for earning some extra money on the side. You must keep in mind that art and skill are things that always pay you if you know your trade. The paying does not just include money, but there is also appreciation, admiration, and reverence.

Carving a wooden bear with a chainsaw is quite a unique talent that very few people have. There are other arts too, but they are pretty common, making carving bears with a chainsaw unique. Therefore, it will pay you well while you will be admired too.

In the woodcarving world, chainsaw carving can be compared to other types of carving, like comparing Goliath to David. Chainsaw carving is not only bigger and bolder, but it is dangerous too. It is also newer compared to relief carving, chip carving, or other types of wood carving. If you know the basics of carving a bear with a chainsaw, then it will be a piece of cake for you.

History of Chainsaw Carving

The practice of chainsaw carving actually started in the United States back in the 1950s. Ken Kaiser and Ben Murphy pioneered this craft and started distributing their pieces. Interest in chainsaw carving gradually grew until the 1980s. Then, this practice jumped in popularity due to the publication of a handful of books on chainsaw carving and the inception of numerous chainsaw carving festivals and competitions. Men and women from all walks of life took part in these competitions, and the number of chainsaw carvers quickly multiplied.

The development of the internet further aided the growth of chainsaw carving. Chainsaw carvers started posting recorded videos, “How-to” articles, and more, while they also carved pieces and started selling their items on the internet.

As chainsaw carving gained popularity, it spread from the United States to Japan and Europe. Now, many chainsaw artists started participating in dozens of annual chainsaw carving competitions and festivals all over the world. According to the United Chainsaw Carving Guild (UCCG), there are chainsaw sculptors in over 80 countries all over the world.

Necessary Equipment for Carving a Chainsaw

For sculpting a chainsaw, you will require certain equipment like a chainsaw, a large chunk of wood, education, training, and imagination. Here are some of the key aspects that you must know about carving.

1. A chainsaw or two

Like most chainsaw carvers, you will require a chainsaw. You’ll start with a single chainsaw and add more saws as you’re learning the craft and increase the detail and realism of your projects. Standard chainsaw models from reputed tool manufacturers like Stihl, Dewalt, Husqvarna, Worx, Makita, and Black+Decker often make lists of the best chainsaws for carving. The popular models frequently feature guide bars with small noses that allow the carver to create realistic detail.

As you master the craft of carving a bear and increase the size and complexity of the pieces, you will likely add “specialty” chainsaws with unusually long guide bars or custom noses that allow you to easily sculpt pieces exactly as you would like them.

2. Safety gear

Of course, carving with a chainsaw can be dangerous. A careless mistake can easily result in serious injuries or even death. This is why wise chainsaw carvers gear up with at least goggles, gloves, ear protection, and steel-toed boots. Carvers should also wear helmets with face shields and chaps.

3. A large woodblock

One of the primary benefits of carving with a chainsaw is that you’ll be able to use wood that isn’t pristine enough for others to use. For instance, having knots or irregular grain that have chip carvings or relief carvings will add character to the chainsaw carving. Some sculptors make use of fallen logs, while others get scrap logs or end pieces from sawmills.

Extensive works or commissioned pieces could be the exception to this rule. In such instances, the carver might need to scour many sources before locating a wooden log with the correct dimensions.

Another factor that you will have to consider is the variety of wood that you wish to carve. Softwoods are much easier to carve, and they offer less kickback when you’re carving, which makes them less dangerous to carve. These reasons make softwoods an incredibly popular option for chainsaw carving than hardwoods. Some of the best wood options for carving include – 

  • Pine – White pine and ponderosa pine are pretty popular while they’re also inexpensive, plentiful, and quite reliable to cut
  • Red Ceddar – This one isn’t as inexpensive or easy to carve as pine, but the color will be amazing 
  • Basswood – This is a hardwood, but it is also popular as it is rather soft, attractive, and easy to use 

4. Basic education and training

Many chainsaw carvers happen to be self-taught. They learn it by watching other carvers, reading books and articles, viewing videos, or doing all three. Some of them also attend classes that teach chainsaw carving.

Whether you are opting to educate yourself or learn in a formal setting, you should understand things like –

  • How your chainsaw works, how to handle it, and what are its safety features 
  • The steps of the carving process, such as sketching your piece, outlining the design, detailing the fine features, and finishing the pieces 
  • Cutting techniques like flat cuts, side cuts, and straight cuts

More than other woodcarvers, chainsaw sculptors also have to understand and account for the stress that chainsaw carving places on your body physically. You will have to gradually start and learn how long you can carve before the stress makes it unsafe to continue. You will also have to consider how long you will have to recover and what steps you can take for easing sore muscles quickly such that you can start carving again.

5. Imagination

Vivid imagination will be a chainsaw carver’s best friend. If you’re able to imagine a detailed piece well enough to visualize it and put it on paper, you have already taken a huge step closer to completing the project. As you create more pieces, you will become more adept at seeing the possibilities lying dormant in a woodblock.

How to Chainsaw Carve a Bear

Before you start learning how to chainsaw carving patterns for a beginner, it is important to know that you should be cautious during the entire process. Before starting the carving, you will need to first check for the carving chainsaw and confirm whether it is working properly or not. 

The process to check the chainsaw will include checking its sharpness, checking if your chainsaw needs to be oiled, and checking whether the chain is tight or not. If any of these aspects or other components have to be fixed, you should do this first. After that, you should wear your safety equipment, which includes gloves, helmet, boots, chaps, and more. Further, you should also follow the necessary safety protocols when dealing with a chainsaw. Once everything is done, you can start learning how to chainsaw carve a bear.

Step 1: Place the log on a wooden piece

First, you should take a wooden log of around 3 to 3.5 feet in height, it needs to be large enough to carve a normal size bear. 

After that, you should place the log on a wooden piece and then attach the log to the wooden stage using screws. Then, mark the log at the bottom side, leaving around 4 to 5-inch space. Your bear carving needs to be above this mark. This space serves as the standing of your carved bear.

Step 2: Start by carving the head and ears

Make use of the widest part of the wooden log for the head. Start off by cutting the wooden log in a triangle shape of sorts. Use the two wide sides of the triangle to make ears, while using the narrow part for the facial features.

You should keep in mind that you won’t have to cut a proper triangle. This is just to make a rough sketch and mind map for the carving.

Moreover, you should be careful when you are carving the ears. First, you need to have an equal gap between the ears. Remember that ears are located on the backside of the bear’s head. The ears aren’t parallel with the nose or cheeks. They are behind.

Step 3: Start carving with the chainsaw

logger carving a bear using a chainsaw

Grab your chainsaw, turn it on, and then start carving. Begin cutting from the back of the bear’s ears. Cut until the hump of the shoulder before moving ahead until the standing of the bear.

Step 4: Draw the shape of the mouth and cheeks

Now, you need to get a marker and then draw rough-cutting lines to mind map. After that, you should draw the shape of the head, and mouth while leaving behind the space for the ears of the bear. Then, draw the cheeks and paws of your bear such that you do not feel any difficulty while moving the chainsaw.

Step 5: Notch the ears and make cuts for facial expressions

Now, you will have to start notching the ears. Initially, you should make a rough structure of your bear. Then, make cuts for facial expressions like mouth, nose, and cheeks from the pointed side of the triangle.

Step 6: Make the neck, shoulders, and arms

Now, you need to cut down deep into the neck and then make the cuts for the legs. Moreover, make cuts for visible features of arms. After marking the arm features, it will be easy to have the look of the bear. Of course, it isn’t a complete one, but at least each feature should be distinguished and recognizable.

After that, you need to make shoulder cuts while separating all the body parts. You’ll be done with the structure of your bear in no time.

Step 7: Furring the carving

The next step would be furring. This is a significant step as you’ll need to make smaller cuts of the whole bear. This will result in a hairy body of the bear. Further, this will also be a final touching action.

Step 8: Give the final touches

Now, you have to cut the swap wood at the bottom that you left initially to make the standing of your carved gear. Make it fair and give it a final touch by carving it with the chainsaw. This will be the base of the bear where it stands.

Then, you should give the carved bear a final touch to sharpen the facial expressions of the bear. You must attach the pair of eyes and make designing cuts (furring) at the base of your carving.

Step 9: Paint the carved bear

This step is optional, and it will add to the beauty of the carved bear. You can paint the bear, or you could also give it a fiery touch. This will result in creating light and dark patches on the skin of your bear. Paint won’t give the bear a real feel quite like a fiery touch does. Now, you will be done with bear carving.

How to Carve A Bear with a CHAINSAW!


How to carve a bear for beginners?

Start by mind mapping and then cut the wooden log into a triangle-like shape, but it shouldn’t be a proper triangle. To make the ears, use a wide part while using the narrow part for the facial expressions. Mark the lines for cutting the bear and follow up by giving it a final shape by furring or painting.

Should I use softwood for chainsaw carving?

Softwood like cottonwood and ponderosa will be best for bear carving with a chainsaw. Softwood will be better as it is quite easy to cut, and it’ll have fewer cracks in it.

How to preserve a wood-carved bear?

You can preserve the carved wooden bear by placing flat stones or furniture pads under the carving. The basic idea here is to keep it elevated from the floor or other surfaces so that there is continuous airflow. Over time, your carving will start to stabilize its moisture content and cracking will become less of a concern if it is kept in the same environment.

What are the best wood options for chainsaw carvings?

Ponderosa pine and white pine are particularly popular options for chainsaw carvings. Red cedar isn’t as easy to carve, but it is inexpensive to cut. Basswood is another popular option that is particularly soft, attractive, inexpensive, and very easy to use.

What type of oil should I use for my chainsaw carvings?

It is recommended that you should saturate your chainsaw carving using 2/3 linseed oil and 1/3 turpentine or paint thinner. You could saturate the front first and treat the back lightly. This forces the back of the carving to dry faster, while also putting stress on cracking there. Once the piece is done cracking, you will have to treat all of it equally.

What is the hardest type of wood to carve?

Australian Buloke is the hardest wood to carve. It is an ironwood tree native to Australia. The wood comes from a species of tree that occurs across most of Southern and Eastern Australia. Also referred to as the hardest wood in the world, this type of wood has a Janka hardness of 5,060 IBF.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.